ASK A WEDDING VENDOR: BLAIR NADEAU BRIDAL ADORNMENTS
Blair Nadeau Bridal Adornments was established in 2009, born out of our love of both bridal and fashion. Over the years, they have combined these two loves to create curated collections of modern and yesteryear inspired adornments, millinery and veils.
Blair Nadeau, photographed by Khristel Studios
We are infatuated with the art produced by Blair Nadeau, so naturally we were elated to get a first hand glimpse of the magic that happens behind the scenes.
What’s the story behind Blair Nadeau Bridal Adornments?
I started my business as a small hobby more or less accidentally back in 2009. I had just returned home from a trip to England with my boss at my day job sourcing for the apparel industry and had discovered fascinators at Selfridges on Oxford Street. I was completely enamoured by them. I grew up wearing an abundance of hair accessories (I'm dating myself, but butterfly clips were a hot trend when I was in high school, and I wore about 50 of them a day) So when I saw these fabulous headpieces, I thought to myself that I wanted to learn everything I could about making them. Originally it was going to be just for myself, but when a few friends saw the feather headpieces that I was creating, it started a flurry of excitement and there I was, starting a business. It was meant to be a small side hustle for a while, as I had a very busy day job in the fashion industry, but once I transitioned into the bridal world 10 years ago it took on a life of its own. I was able to leave the day job in 2017 and have been running my studio and showroom since!
What products do you offer at Blair Nadeau?
I hate the term "one stop shop", but over the years I have really expanded the range of offerings. I started out with headbands and small fascinators and grew to incorporate headpieces, crowns, vines and hair pins. I've become quite known for my veils over the past few years as well, as I was the first Canadian bridal designer to create Juliet Veils over 8 years ago and love creating embellished veils. Over the last 4 years, I've begun designing earrings, bracelets and necklaces and I'm so glad that I did, as I've been having a lot of fun with these categories. I love creating back jewelry as well for low back gowns and again was the first Canadian bridal to start designing these 5 years ago. They have become a staple in our collections.
Where can we buy your beautiful pieces?
I don't have a lot of stockists, as I do like to keep my designs fairly exclusive and as all pieces are handmade by myself, I can only handle so much production in a year. I have a curated collection of my favourite designs and best sellers on my website - www.blairnadeau.com and I carry my full available range in my etsy shop - www.etsy.com/shop/blairnadeau.com.
For local brides, I have a beautiful showroom (recently renovated, it's so much fun!) where I meet with my brides for in person consultations. Unfortunately right now due to Covid19 and restrictions, our showroom is closed, however for local brides we have created a complimentary Try at Home service where our clients can try on up to 5 pieces in the comfort of their homes. It has been really well received and a way to still see the items in person before making a final decision.
What inspires your work?
Given that my background is in fashion, I am inspired a lot from fashion. My favourite designer was Karl Lagerfeld and still the House of Chanel and I'm constantly finding myself looking back at the Chanel archives for inspiration. I'm also really inspired by interior design. I find that trends start with fashion, then lend themselves to interiors and then finally trickle down to bridal. I always find so much inspiration in the textures and nuances of interior design. Two of my upcoming collections are called Terrazzo and Stucco and they are inspired by both of those design elements.
More often however, I let the materials speak to me. I usually start with a central design and all of the other designs are offshoots from that original inspiration. I like to let the materials play. Sometimes an idea works out, sometimes it doesn't, but I feel like I always have to get the idea out.
Above photos by Whitney Heard
It is so cool that your work has been gifted to celebrities like Drew Barrymore and Scarlett Johansson! What has been your biggest career highlight?
This has been really amazing to be able to have my products presented to women that I admire. I'm part of a fabulous group in California called The Artisan Group that allows me to gift my products to celebrities as well as have opportunities for placements on television shows. I've had a few pretty cool career highlights. The first was when I was fairly new to the industry, but I was asked by Mattel to design and make a Barbie for Toronto Fashion Week. That was a really cool opportunity. I made the tiniest fascinator with the smallest pearls and wee feathers and a birdcage veil. It was awesome. Second would be seeing my work on television. I was really fortunate to have had the opportunity to create headpieces and crowns for all 4 seasons of Reign. That was such a trip. I always wanted to be an actress when I was younger, so having the opportunity to have my work on tv took the cake. After my stint on Reign I got addicted to seeing my work on TV which is why I sought out the Artisan Group to discover other opportunities. Finally the third happened recently, when I gifted Gwen Stefani three of my designs. Gwen has been my fashion and life idol for 26 years (since I was 14) and when the opportunity came up to gift her some of my adornments, I jumped (and cried...a lot). It really was the opportunity of a lifetime. To know that Gwen Stefani owns my pieces and knows my name...
What are your favourite pieces to create?
My crowns and statement earrings. I feel like my statement earrings are crowns for the ears if that makes sense. I have SO much fun with them and use a lot of the same design techniques that I use on my crowns on the earrings. I never run out of inspiration for either. Actually, that's a lie. Last year I had no energy for crowns and big earrings and felt that I had no new ideas so I didn't create that many and the ones that I did were more minimal in nature. I think I needed a break and needed to cleanse the palette because this year....it's crowns and earrings overload!
Photo by Something Borrowed Studios
We love that your pieces are handcrafted and are truly one of a kind. How long does it usually take to create a veil or crown?
Thank you! I really pride myself in that every single item is handmade to order so every single client is having something made just for them. When they order an item, I literally sit down with them in mind and make it just for them. Time really does vary, some designs are quicker, others can take hours. My embellished Juliet Veils can take upwards of 10-15 hours. There are SO many layers to them between sculpting the cap, sewing the edging, cutting and pressing the flowers, stitching and beading the lace. They really are labours of love. I did create a hand stitched pearl veil a few years back that took over 70 hours. It was insane. Crowns again can take hours. The most labour intensive crowns are the Austine and Rouzhin. Both of those crowns take at least 10 hours to make. There are so many elements and layers to them.
What does your creative process look like?
When I start a collection, I usually start with one design and the bulk of the collection is inspired and born from that one design. Sometimes, in the case of the upcoming collections, I veered course and had 3 central designs, so it's kind of taken on a mind of its own, hence why I've split it up into 3 collections! I usually sketch all my designs (roughly, they aren't pretty and really only I can make them out) throughout the design season and then make them one by one between orders. Sometimes I don't even have the time to sketch them as I'll be working on an order and think "what if!" and come up with a new design on the fly. Those ones are my favourite as I usually make them right away as I'm so excited about them. That's what happened this season. Due to Covid19, business was severely impacted and I had a lot of downtime, but on the upside, it gave way to so much creatively, I am STILL designing and I think I'm over 125 pieces deep at this point! I might have to edit...but I hate doing that as I love everything.
Photo by Memoires En Or
Do you offer custom designs?
Yes I do! During our busy season (not Covid times) I offer one or two openings a month for truly custom work, but right now I'm fully open to custom as it's a bit quieter then normal so if you have a custom request, I recommend getting it in now as I'll be closing those offerings once life gets back to normal. All of our designs are modifiable though and I love changing up classics with requests from brides. As everything is made to order, anything is possible!
Your collections are absolutely beautiful. Do you have a favourite?
Thank you! I think my favourite collection is my 2019 collection Fleur et Lune. I think I grew a lot as a designer with that collection. Everything just came together perfectly and it's allowed me to expand a lot of my designability which will be evident in the upcoming collection.
Do you have any tips for styling your pieces?
I really love to see how stylists and brides interpret the pieces as I have a vision in my head, but I always find it so inspiring when someone else has a different vision, so I tend to not give out too many styling tips other then whether something requires bobby pins (hair vines, birdcage veils). I will admit sometimes I've received images back where I'm like oh no...that was worn completely wrong (specifically if something is made directional) But the vast majority of the time I'm pleasantly surprised by the creativity!
Photos by Vicki Bartel Branding
What bridal trends do you predict for 2021/2022?
I think it's really going to depend on the state of the world and where we are at. Right now I'm seeing A LOT of minimal jewelry being ordered and small hairpieces. I think because weddings are smaller, brides are going more delicate and simple with their adornments which I completely understand, but I also think that even if you are having a small wedding, still be fabulous and wear the crown, or the big earrings or the long veil. I think once things open up and weddings get back to a more normal size (although what is normal sized, as I've been all about the microwedding for years personally, I love the concept) brides will be wanting to pull out all the stops and the larger adornments will be all the rage again.
I am seeing a shift to more heirloom styles however, Juliet Veils have been really popular in shorter lengths this past year. I think because weddings are smaller and so family focused that the idea of a vintage/heirloom style wedding is really front and centre right now. I love the idea as I always love incorporating that old world feeling into a wedding, so I've been really stoked to see a resurrection of the Juliet Veil.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Honestly, Covid19. 2019 was my best year, I was on such a high, business was booming, I was ready to hire a design assistant, everything was going so well and then bam. The world stopped. Like everyone, I went through a really low point in my career and worried about having the funds and motivation to continue. It took a few months but once I started pouring my heart and soul into designing, my spirits have been lifted. It's still a challenge as we still don't know when things will be back to normal, for regular life or the wedding world so we are all still extremely nervous and anxious, but life will return and weddings will return and we will all be ready! In a weird way, I think I needed this. I pushed myself so hard in 2019 that I ended up injuring my hand at the end of the season and couldn't work for a few months. I literally dreaded wedding season and it was a small blessing that I was forced to take a longer break to let my hand heal properly, but no one expected it to be this long of a break!
How have you had to adapt your business during the pandemic?
Honestly, I feel too old to pivot ha. I've put so much into this business for the last 12 years that when this happened I just couldn't think or adapt or come up with something new and exciting. I retreated for a bit. The biggest pivot was establishing the try at home service and virtual consultations. Both of them worked really well and I think it will be something that I'll continue with going forward. I am working on something in the background though that I hope to launch next year as well, but that's under wraps for now.
What is the greatest compliment you’ve received from a client or bride?
I've been so blessed to have so many incredible brides around the world and some have become beloved friends! I think the biggest compliment came from the mother of one of my brides. Back in 2019, I had the honor of restoring this gorgeous wax crown from 1919. My bride wanted to wear her great grandmother's crown for her wedding day that had been passed down through generations but it needed some love and she wanted to add a few modern elements to it. When I had completed the restoration and shared the images with my bride and her mother, the mother exclaimed that I am now part of the family. It was a wonderful feeling adding to the history of this beautiful crown and becoming part of this family in my own small way. It really was such a compliment. Every single time I receive an order, I am truly honored to play a small part in a bride's and couple's history.
Photo by Kayla Yestal
Thank you so much for chatting with us, Blair! We highly recommend checking out more of their stunning work, run don't walk: Blair Nadeau Bridal Adornments: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Pinterest | Etsy
Tale of Tulle, Canadian Wedding Magazine